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The Forgotten Postpartum: 4 Ways to Physically Prepare for the Best Postpartum Season
Many times we focus all our energy on pregnancy and birth and forget that this is all in preparation for the postpartum season. There are many ways we can prepare for the best postpartum season, even in the last month of pregnancy. Here I talk about 4 physical ways to prepare for the postpartum.
1. Prevent Anemia
A woman’s blood volume increases throughout pregnancy to about 45% more than what is was before pregnancy. Iron is necessary for hemoglobin formation and hemoglobin is necessary to transport oxygen throughout the body and to the baby. A good healthy hemoglobin level before labor will translate into the baby doing better in labor, less chance of hemorrhage, and an easier recover. It is normal for your hemoglobin to drop in pregnancy I recommend you aim for a hemoglobin over 12 before labor. I recommend taking chlorophyll and the supplement Blood Builder by Mega Foods. You can get it from my link here: Blood Builder. If you are having difficulty getting your hemoglobin up there could be several reasons for this and I would love to consult with you. Be sure your care provider checks your hemoglobin at the 28 week visit and again at the 36 week visit. It’s not too late to increase your hemoglobin until labor. (1) If you want to consult with me you can make an appointment here.
2. Increase Your Nutrient Intake
I hope you have been eating a stellar, nutrient-rich diet your whole pregnancy, but the third trimester is the final stretch of your pregnancy. Keep it up you are almost there. This is a great time to increase your fresh juice to a couple times a day. Focus on those vegetables. Make sure you are consuming quality protein daily. I don’t mean protein shakes. I mean real food protein, possibly in vegetable form. Here is a list of complete proteins: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, bean sprouts, dates, coconuts, bananas, tomatoes, okra, squash, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, carrots, cabbage, eggplant, and spirulina, a blue green algae. (2) Check out my resources for eating healthy here: Healthy Eating Resources
Increase your good fats from wild-caught sea food (not farmed or farm raised) organic olive oil (for eating not cooking) and organic coconut oil or ghee for cooking. These also are good fats; avocados, walnuts, almonds, and organic flax seed.
Add in an additional serving of fermented vegetable or kefir every day to up your gut health before labor.
I am a fan of raw dairy, but dairy does chunk babies up in the last trimester, and whereas babies chunking up on your rich breast milk are beautiful you don’t need to push out a chunky baby, so consider limiting your dairy in these last few weeks.
3. Physical Exercise
Squats strengthen your pelvic floor and prepare you for pushing or your body for pushing as you breathe a baby out. (Breathing a baby out, an option even for some first time moms.). Build your way up to 20 squats and, this is important, work your way up to holding the squat for 60 to 90 seconds. That sounds like FOREVER, yes but if you consider how long a contraction is that’s how long you may be squatting for.
Get out there and walk. Build your lungs by going for it. If you have other kids then push them in a stroller. You can do it 30-45 minutes, at least 5 days a week. You will be thankful every moment of labor and in your postpartum recovery that you got out there. If you miss a day start fresh.
Nipple preparation can save you agony in breast feeding. Examine your nipples and make sure they are sticking out. If you are not sure ask your care provider to look at them. If your nipples are not out there are exercises you can do to help pull them out.
4. Emotional Health
If you have any fears going into labor or have had a traumatic labor or abuse please talk to your care provider or a trained counselor. There are many techniques available to help with trauma and you and your baby are worth getting support. One of the most important areas to focus on is setting yourself up for emotional health in the postpartum. Make sure you have a support team in place before labor. Ask yourself: What do I need emotionally to thrive now and in the postpartum when my hormones will be intense and my sleep limited?
These are 4 areas of preparation for the postpartum, but if you will pay attention to them they will increase the quality of your postpartum season many times over. No matter what your labor or birth look like, having these areas in place will go a long way to a beautiful postpartum.
1. Varney’s Midwifery by Helen Varney p. 543-556
2. Notes from Dr. Joel Robbins
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